There are several things that need to go right for the San Francisco Giants in 2018 if they are going to make the playoffs, but there is one player the team can’t afford to lose.
I’ll get straight to the point as the obvious answer is Madison Bumgarner.
Not only can the San Francisco Giants not afford to lose Bumgarner in 2018, they need him to compete for a Cy Young.
As things stand today, I am not fully confident in the pitching staff behind Bumgarner. Certainly we expect Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija to pitch better in 2018, but what if they don’t? What if they are just average pitchers through the rest of their contract?
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Bumgarner has to make 30-plus starts this year, and the Giants have to win more than 20 of the times he takes the mound.
I have no doubt the offense will be much improved in 2018 — it certainly can’t be any worse. But if the Bumgarner doesn’t pitch to a Cy Young level, those extra runs aren’t going to do us much good.
Last year we saw what this team looks like without Bumgarner in the rotation. For whatever reason, everyone else just seemed to give up once he got hurt.
I think if we have a healthy Bumgarner all year he’ll continue to help and push the other pitchers on the staff to be better.
We’ve seen it in the past when secondary pitchers feed of the ace of the staff. That is type of team chemistry we have to see from our starting pitchers in 2017 — everyone feeding off of one another.
If this team can do that, they’ll have a great chance of keeping themselves in the playoff race all year. But if for some reason Bumgarner doesn’t have a great year, or decides to ride dirt backs on an off day and gets hurt, its’ hard for me to see this San Francisco Giants team making any noise in 2018.